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Essential California: The perils of walking to school

Essential California: The perils of walking to school
The LAPD responds to a crime scene near Hawkins High School. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 27, and here’s what’s happening across California:



While much of the recent national conversation on campus violence has focused on mass shootings, schools also are dealing with other physical and psychological harms that thousands of students experience directly or indirectly near campuses. In Los Angeles County, at least one homicide occurred within a mile of 89% of public high school campuses, according to a Times analysis of data from 2014 through 2018. Fifteen campuses saw at least 50 homicides within a mile during those years. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Navigating a safe path to schools surrounded by homicide. Los Angeles Times

And: Resources for students and families affected by violence near schools. Los Angeles Times

Stay tuned for more from Sonali Kohli’s series about violence near schools. You will find it here first in the Essential California newsletter. Los Angeles Times

The imperial governor

Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted a highly significant but less visible power of his office in his first State of the State speech this month: selecting appointees who can reshape California government in his image and help deliver on his ambitious policy agenda. After condemning the lackluster oversight of a $77-billion California bullet train plagued with cost overruns, Newsom punctuated the call for change by announcing he was appointing one of his top economic advisers to take the helm of the High Speed Rail Authority. The Democratic governor also picked a new chairman, Joaquin Esquivel, a former assistant secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, for the Water Resources Control Board to bring “balance” to state water policy, which has been hamstrung by conflicts among farmers, cities and environmentalists. Over the next four years, Newsom will have to the opportunity to appoint more than 3,000 people to 32 government entities. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Newsom tries to sidestep California’s clash with President Trump in a visit to Washington. Los Angeles Times

Idle at the border

The House’s approval of a resolution to override Trump’s emergency declaration at the southern border sets up a difficult vote for Senate Republicans. Three Republican senators have said they plan to support the resolution, just one shy of the four GOP votes needed to pass it out of Congress, assuming all Senate Democrats vote yes. It easily cleared the Democratic-controlled House on Tuesday evening by a vote of 245 to 182. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Along the border in Texas, there’s little sign of action on Trump’s emergency declaration: Half a dozen lawsuits and constraints contained in the spending bill passed this month by Congress have combined to throw the planned construction in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley into confusion and doubt. Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency charged with building Trump’s border barrier, aren’t clear what happens next. Los Angeles Times


More rain on the way: A winter storm that has flooded roads, toppled trucks with high winds and created treacherous conditions throughout the Sierra Nevada in Northern California is expected to brush Los Angeles on Wednesday. Los Angeles Times

More rain is set to hit Los Angeles on Wednesday. Here, a visitor to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art makes his way through the rain near Chris Burden's sculpture, "Urban Light," during a Feb. 14 storm.
More rain is set to hit Los Angeles on Wednesday. Here, a visitor to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art makes his way through the rain near Chris Burden's sculpture, "Urban Light," during a Feb. 14 storm. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Here’s the pitch: Half a century after the Angels passed on a chance to move to Long Beach, that city is again trying to lure the team. Los Angeles Times

Emma Thompson’s letter to Skydance Animation: Why I can’t work for John Lasseter. Los Angeles Times


Two oldies but goodies: How Joni Mitchell and David Hockney make L.A. a better place. Los Angeles Times


Startling report: California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra has released findings from the first inspection of immigrant detention facilities across the state, giving a glimpse into the conditions for detainees inside the centers at a time when the Trump administration has taken a more aggressive approach to confining people who are in the country illegally. Los Angeles Times

Eye-opening stats: “Thousands of migrant youth allegedly suffered sexual abuse in U.S. custody.” Axios



David Lazarus weighs in: Laugh it up, Republicans, but a soda tax is a serious response to a deadly serious problem. Los Angeles Times

Presidential race heat: “In a show of force aimed at locking down support in California — an early primary state critical to her 2020 hopes — Sen. Kamala Harris on Tuesday announced the backing of a score of Democratic California statewide officers.” Politico

Plus: Harris is calling for the decriminalization of sex work. The Root

Troubling story: “An internal report from the San Diego VA obtained by inewsource reveals liver samples were taken from sick veterans without their permission for a study that provided no benefit to the patients…. The October report found ‘serious noncompliance occurred’ when extra pieces of liver were removed from at least nine veterans. It also increased the risk of bleeding in the patients.” Inewsource


Hwaaaat? California keeps a secret list of criminal cops but says you can’t have it. Mercury News

Big bust: “A revolver-toting Rami Haddad met an acquaintance at the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort on Feb. 4 and hoped to sell 100 pounds of methamphetamine, but that person turned out to be a confidential informant working for the FBI.” OC Weekly


Those poor porpoises: At least six dolphins have become stranded on beaches in Orange County this month, an unusually high number that has left animal rescuers puzzled. Los Angeles Times


More than movies: After his first Oscars win, a look at the world Spike Lee built. Los Angeles Times

Great story: Rich layers of life from Suzanne Jackson, one of L.A.’s pioneer black female artists. Los Angeles Times

Mangia! Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton is now a culinary ambassador at the new Farmhouse food and event space at the Ojai Valley Inn in Ventura County. Los Angeles Times

In Indio: The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival says it’s safe for LGBTQ people, but transgender siblings say they were denied restroom access. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: cloudy, 63, Wednesday; cloudy, 65, Thursday. San Diego: sunny, 64, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 67, Thursday. San Francisco area: showers, 60, Wednesday; cloudy, 54, Thursday. San Jose: showers, 64, Wednesday; rainy, 57, Thursday. Sacramento: showers, 61, Wednesday; showers, 58, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Wendy Vega:

“I moved from New York to L.A. in 1978. Having little fast food in NYC at that time, I fell in love with Taco Bell. I ate Taco Bell for every meal — enchirito, burrito supreme, and two tacos — twice a day. My metabolism was faster then. Working in television exposed me to the finer things. I went to Spago, Columbia Bar and Grill, the Ivy. In 2004 I returned to NYC — why, I’m not sure, but here I am. Imagine my surprise at finding Taco Bells all over New York! Though I try to be good, I do have a bean burrito on occasion. Alas, there are no more enchiritos, but one can always hope.”